NFL Week 13 takeaways: Browns put up 41 points, and the Jets find a new way to lose


Week 13 in the NFL saw some wild endings and near upsets. The Raiders needed a deep-ball touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III in the closing seconds to avoid a loss to the winless Jets, while the Vikings were forced to overtime against the one-win Jaguars before hitting a game-winning field goal. The Lions overcame a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Bears, and the Saints survived a late push from the Falcons to secure a playoff berth. And the Browns racked up 38 points in the first half to defeat the Titans, despite a four-TD second half from Tennessee.

In the afternoon slate on Sunday, the Giants shocked the Seahawks to move to 5-7, while the Patriots blew out the Chargers with a big special-teams performance. The Eagles pulled Carson Wentz, and the Rams made moves in the NFC West playoff race.

All that and more in Week 13‘s biggest takeaways from NFL Nation.

Jump to a matchup:
NO-ATL | CLE-TEN | IND-HOU
JAX-MIN | CIN-MIA | DET-CHI
LV-NYJ | LAR-ARI | NYG-SEA
PHI-GB | NE-LAC

Standout performer: Saints QB Taysom Hill, 232 passing yards, 2 TDs (and 83 rushing yards)

The Saints are 3-0 with Taysom Hill at quarterback (even though he temporarily lost his grip on his best performance to date with a costly fumble early in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s win). And the defense came up with a huge red zone stop late in the game to seal the Saints’ ninth consecutive victory and clinch a playoff spot. The Saints (10-2) should eventually get Drew Brees back, but even without him, they keep showing they can handle adversity and win in a variety of ways. That should bode well in the playoffs. — Mike Triplett

Next game: at Eagles (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Falcons still don’t have an identity. After a promising week of defense against the Raiders, it appeared that could be their strong suit, but they followed it up with a poor performance against the Saints. With an offense that continues to struggle, Atlanta is looking for any sort of positive consistency on either side of the ball at this point. — Harry Lyles Jr.

Next game: at Chargers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer: Browns QB Baker Mayfield, 334 passing yards, 4 TDs

The Browns finally have a winning season. Behind a first-half performance unparalleled in franchise history, Cleveland defeated Tennessee to move to 9-3, clinching its first winning record in 13 years. The Browns also took another big step toward snapping the league’s longest postseason drought. Spearheaded by quarterback Baker Mayfield, Cleveland scored 38 points in the first half, breaking a franchise first-half record. Mayfield himself had a record half, becoming the first Browns quarterback since Otto Graham in 1951 to pass for four touchdowns in a first half. If Mayfield keeps playing this way, the Browns could be more than just a threat to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. Once there, they could actually do some damage. — Jake Trotter

Next game: vs. Ravens (8:15 p.m. ET, Monday, Dec. 14)

The Titans came out with little life against the Browns and gave up 38 points in the first half. The ugly defensive performances on third down resurfaced this week, with Tennessee giving up 10 conversions on 16 third-down opportunities. Tennessee is still in first place in the AFC South, though, thanks to a 3-1 record in the division. — Turron Davenport

Next game: at Jaguars (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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In the Browns win over the Titans, Baker Mayfield makes franchise history as the first quarterback to record four touchdown passes in the first half of a game since Hall of Famer Otto Graham.

Standout performer: Colts WR T.Y. Hilton, 110 receiving yards, 1 TD

The Colts can’t sit back and relax too much after beating Houston to move into a first-place tie with Tennessee atop the AFC South (although the Titans hold the tiebreaker). They’re back on the road in Week 14 to face a Las Vegas team that’s breathing down their necks for the final playoff spot in the AFC. A loss to the Raiders (7-5) would hurt the Colts’ chances at making the playoffs if they don’t win the AFC South. — Mike Wells

Next game: at Raiders (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Texans’ slim chance at a run at the AFC South ended with a fumble on the 2-yard-line in Sunday’s loss, but Houston might have found a pair of playmakers with a future for this franchise. After Kenny Stills was released and Will Fuller V was suspended, the Texans had a need at the position, and receivers Keke Coutee (eight catches for 141 yards) and Chad Hansen (five catches for 101 yards) took advantage of their opportunities. — Sarah Barshop

Next game: at Bears (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer: Vikings RB Dalvin Cook, 120 rushing yards (and 59 receiving yards)

Sure, a win is a win, but the Vikings’ overtime victory against the Jaguars was ugly, and the team knows it. “We’ve got to play better than what we’re playing,” coach Mike Zimmer said before noting how the Vikings gave up three touchdowns off turnovers in consecutive weeks and fumbled on the 1-yard line against the Jaguars with a chance to take a 10-point lead late in the fourth quarter. “We can’t do those things and continue to win football games. It’s a credit to their heart right now that they’re winning games by making these kind of mistakes, to be honest with you.” If the Vikings want to improve their resume for the playoffs, they have to earn a convincing win against a team with more than one victory. They have a prime opportunity to do that in Tampa Bay next Sunday. — Courtney Cronin

Next game: at Buccaneers (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

For the second consecutive week — and third time in the past four games — the Jaguars came close to snapping their losing streak and picking up their second victory, despite being down four of their top five cornerbacks and their best pass-rusher, and being on their sixth kicker of the season. It’s an indication this shouldn’t be a long rebuild for the new GM. Take the quarterback with their top pick, hit on the other three picks they have through the first two rounds and spend wisely in free agency, and the Jaguars could be a vastly improved team in 2021. — Mike DiRocco

Next game: vs. Titans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer: Dolphins LB Kyle Van Noy, 8 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 1 pass breakup

In his first game since being benched for poor play and injuring his left thumb, quarterback Tua Tagovailoa bounced back in a big way. He showed he could fight through first-half adversity, as offensive rust wore off at halftime, making way for a big third quarter. Tagovailoa threw for a career-high 294 yards, a touchdown and no turnovers as the Dolphins’ up-tempo offense and continued dominance on defense gave some reason for optimism as they continue a playoff push. — Cameron Wolfe

Next game: vs. Chiefs (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Last season, Cincinnati’s overtime defeat to the Dolphins sealed the right to draft quarterback Joe Burrow and showed signs of fight under new coach Zac Taylor. On Sunday, hope and optimism were the last things to be found in Miami. The loss was arguably the low point for the Bengals in Taylor’s two seasons as a coach. The Bengals let a halftime lead slip away, were absolutely dominated in the second half and showed a stunning lack of discipline that hadn’t been seen since Taylor was hired in 2019. It was a lot of the same tune for a Bengals team that has struggled to find ways to win. Cincinnati fell to 1-5 when leading at halftime and 2-9-1 overall, which keeps Taylor at four wins in two seasons. “It’s frustrating when these games, you don’t pull them out in the end,” Taylor said. — Ben Baby

Next game: vs. Cowboys (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

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Mike Gesicki makes the 20-yard catch with one hand before getting sandwiched between two Bengals defenders.

Standout performer: Lions QB Matthew Stafford, 402 passing yards, 3 TDs

He had already been in the locker room, been given a game ball by quarterback Matthew Stafford and had time to cool down after the Lions came from behind to stun the Bears on Sunday. But even then, interim head coach Darrell Bevell — in his first game as an NFL head coach — couldn’t contain his excitement. “My emotions right now,” Bevell said. “I can’t even think straight.” It’s understandable. Bevell brought a different level of energy in Detroit’s first game since Matt Patricia was fired, and it showed. The Lions played with confidence, and the change at the top yielded something positive for the Lions in what has felt, thus far, like a lost season. — Michael Rothstein

Next game: vs. Packers (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Blow it all up. The Bears (5-7) are done. Finished. Over. Chicago pulled off the impossible on Sunday when it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against a Lions team that just fired its head coach and general manager. The Bears have now lost six consecutive games and appear in serious danger of having to make major offseason changes. The loss is particularly galling because Detroit accomplished on Sunday what the rest of the league has not: The Lions made the Bears’ 31st-ranked offense look good for the most part. And the Bears still found a way to lose. The incessant calls to fire coach Matt Nagy, general manager Ryan Pace — and, well, everyone in the building — are about to reach a fever pitch. It’s going to be an excruciating final four weeks in Chicago. — Jeff Dickerson

Next game: vs. Texans (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer: Raiders TE Darren Waller, 200 receiving yards, 2 TDs

Among the many mottos Al Davis ingrained into the Raiders’ DNA was this: It doesn’t matter how ugly it looks, so long as you win. Yeah, a spin of his more iconic “Just win, baby” slogan. But against a winless and rudderless team such as the Jets, it was more than appropriate. Behind a record day by tight end Darren Waller, and a miracle finish courtesy of a 46-yard touchdown pass from Derek Carr to Henry Ruggs III with five seconds to play, the Raiders ended a two-game losing streak to improve to 7-5 and stay firmly in the AFC playoff race. Now the Raiders embark upon three consecutive home games, including two against teams with whom they are competing for a playoff spot (Colts and Dolphins). — Paul Gutierrez

Next game: vs. Colts (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)

The Jets dropped to 0-12 in crushing fashion, as defensive coordinator Gregg Williams inexplicably called an all-out blitz with 13 seconds left in the game, and rookie cornerback Lamar Jackson got beat by Ruggs for a 46-yard touchdown. It was a horrible call that was criticized by safety Marcus Maye. Let the fingerpointing begin. The Jets are an embarrassment. — Rich Cimini

Next game: at Seahawks (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer: Rams QB Jared Goff, 351 passing yards, 1 TD (and 1 rushing TD)

Jared Goff and the offense broke out of a slump and the Rams improved to 8-4. Coupled with a Seattle loss, the Rams move into a tie for first place in the NFC West with the Seahawks, whom they hold a head-to-head tiebreaker over. With four games remaining, including two division contests, the Rams are positioned to win a third division title in four seasons under coach Sean McVay. Their chances of winning the division are 58%, according to ESPN’s Football Power Index. — Lindsey Thiry

Next game: vs. Patriots (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

The Cardinals (6-6) are now in a four-game fight for their playoff lives after losing to the Rams, the fourth loss in their past five games. As of now, the Cardinals are on the outside of the playoffs, having dropped out of the seventh and final spot thanks to a win by the Vikings. Arizona has lost control of its playoff fate. It’s now up to the Cardinals to win, but other teams will need to lose for them to make the postseason, and it doesn’t help that they go to New York next week to face a hot Giants team. — Josh Weinfuss

Next game: at Giants (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer: Giants DE Leonard Williams, 2.5 sacks, 5 QB hits

Whether they meant to or not, the Giants made a statement, even without starting QB Daniel Jones. Their defense is for real — and they are a dangerous team. It was one thing for the Giants to beat Washington (Alex Smith), Philadelphia (Carson Wentz) and Cincinnati (Brandon Allen). But this was Russell Wilson whom they confused and shut down. Seattle, which came in averaging more than 30 points per game, managed one touchdown against this ascending Giants defense. New York (5-7) has won four consecutive games and has sole possession of first place in the NFC East, at least until Washington plays on Monday night. It also proved that if it does make the playoffs, it’s not going to be an easy matchup, regardless of the team’s overall record. Not with this defense. — Jordan Raanan

Next game: vs. Cardinals (1 p.m. ET, Sunday)

It’s hard to consider the Seahawks a legitimate threat to make a deep run in the playoffs after seeing the egg they laid Sunday. They lost at home to a 4-7 Giants team quarterbacked by Colt McCoy, who hadn’t won a game as a starter since 2014. Wilson was out of sync all game and took several costly sacks. This might be the most disappointing regular-season loss of the Pete Carroll era considering the opponent and the opportunity the Seahawks had over this supposedly soft stretch of their schedule to pad their lead in the NFC West. It’s doubly painful considering the Rams won Sunday. — Brady Henderson

Next game: vs. Jets (4:05 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer: Packers WR Davante Adams, 121 receiving yards, 2 TDs

For everything good that happened in Sunday’s win — Aaron Rodgers reached 400 career touchdowns, Davante Adams surpassed 1,000 yards for the season and Aaron Jones had a 77-yard touchdown run — the Packers haven’t clinched a playoff spot yet and still trail the Saints in the race for the No. 1 seed in the NFC, so their work is far from done. The Packers (9-3) have feasted on terrible quarterback play by the past two opponents: Chicago’s Mitchell Trubisky last week, and now Carson Wentz, who was so ineffective that Eagles coach Doug Pederson pulled him in favor of rookie Jalen Hurts in the second half. — Rob Demovsky

Next game: at Lions (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)

Coach Doug Pederson needs to start Hurts next Sunday against the Saints. Hurts provided the Eagles a spark when inserted into the lineup against the Packers. He certainly wasn’t perfect, throwing an interception and taking three sacks to go with his first career touchdown. But there was no denying the momentum shift across the team when Hurts replaced Wentz. The rest of the players no doubt felt it, and it would be a disservice to the team if he didn’t get at least one start to see if that energy can be sustained. — Tim McManus

Next game: vs. Saints (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)


Standout performer: Patriots PR/WR Gunner Olszewski, 145 punt-return yards, 1 TD (and 38 receiving yards, 1 TD)

Gunner Olszewski had a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown and added another long return, and the Patriots had a 44-yard return of a blocked field goal for a touchdown, as they made a decisive statement that special teams can authoritatively dictate the outcome of games. Now 6-6, the Patriots’ longshot playoff hopes are still alive, and they have a quick turnaround with a Thursday night road game at the Rams (they’ll stay in L.A. over the next five days). If they play like they did Sunday against the Chargers, anything is possible. — Mike Reiss

Next game: at Rams (8:20 p.m. ET, Thursday)

Nothing went right for rookie quarterback Justin Herbert and the Chargers, except the punting. And it’s never good when the punter is the only player to have a good game. Ty Long punted four times for a 51.5-yard average, as Herbert (two interceptions), his offensive line and the special teams all struggled. — Shelley Smith

Next game: vs. Falcons (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday)



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